Brain power

Building a school fit for introverts

Originally posted on The Horizons Tracker.

I remember first reading Quiet by Susan Cain on, appropriately enough, a trip to an agriturismo retreat on the Spanish island of Ibiza. Since then, she has championed the cause of introverts the world over and done perhaps more than anyone to open the dialogue around introversion and how workplaces can get the best out of us.

It seems that the next target is to build schools that are better equipped for introverted students. Cain has developed the Quiet Schools Network, which is due to launch officially later this year with the aim of helping quieter students thrive in our schools.

Schools fit for introverts

Cain argued in her book that the world is predominantly setup with extroverts in mind, and she believes that schools are no different. The Quiet Schools Network attempts therefore, to reframe the very notion of classroom participation towards something more akin to classroom engagement.

The idea is that once you get away from the notion that understanding is best reflected by the speed, and volume, with which a pupil responds to a query it becomes easier to craft an environment fit for all.

Interestingly, some of the schools involved in the project are facilitating this by using social media.

“You very often find that the students who are more reticent to raise their hands are much more vocal when they’re typing into an online forum,” Cain says.

The role environment plays

The project also hopes to mould the physical environment children learn in. For instance, break or recess times are usually full of stimulation and noise, which may do precious little to reinvigorate introverted students.

“Recess is loud, the cafeteria is loud, the lights tend to be bright,” the team say. “An abundance of social interactions and really bright lights can feel like fingernails grating on a chalkboard for the introverted students. And this is where I think it’s an unconscious bias.” In her dream scenario, those quiet spaces are “something really cozy by a window overlooking trees — just a place for silence.”

The overall aim is to create an environment that is a little more orientated towards the quieter amongst us, and they have proposed a number of simple methods that schools can employ to begin moving in that direction.

There is a (slow) appreciation that our workplaces need to change to better provide environments for all employees to thrive, so attempts to do likewise with our schools have to be encouraged. There’s no better person to lead the charge than Susan Cain, and I very much look forward to monitoring the progress of the project in the coming years.

Source: Building a school fit for introverts.

Adi Gaskell

I'm an old school liberal with a love of self organizing systems. I hold a masters degree in IT, specializing in artificial intelligence and enjoy exploring the edge of organizational behavior. I specialize in finding the many great things that are happening in the world, and helping organizations apply these changes to their own environments. I also blog for some of the biggest sites in the industry, including Forbes, Social Business News, Social Media Today and Work.com, whilst also covering the latest trends in the social business world on my own website. I have also delivered talks on the subject for the likes of the NUJ, the Guardian, Stevenage Bioscience and CMI, whilst also appearing on shows such as BBC Radio 5 Live and Calgary Today.

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